Super Best Audio Friends

The evolution of the original irreverent and irrelevant and non-authoritative site for headphone measurements, i.e. frequency response graphs, CSD waterfall plots, subjective gear reviews. Too objective for subjectivists; too subjective for objectivists

Despite high proclamations by YouTubers, it turns out that the HD560S is much ado about nothing - at least to most of the audience here. One step forward and one step back, at least when compared to the old HD558. Compared to the established standards, the HD600/HD650, the HD560 is one step forward and two steps back.

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I can't recall exactly, but I thought maybe the HD558 may have had very slightly angled drivers. Regardless, the HD560S takes the cake and pulls of a really impression of the HD800's headstage. Very impressive! From my limited experience so far, the headstage is closer to the HD800 end of the spectrum than the HD6xx end. Unfortunately, this is where the good news stops. The frequency response takes a hit. The HD558, the predecessor to the HD560S, had small an upper-mid peak. This wasn't particularly obtrusive and made a lot of music sound more energetic. @ultrabike owned the HD558 for years and was perfectly happy with it before finally upgrade to the HD600...
How do they sound...? Like tiny satellite speakers half their size. I'm hoping the paper drivers burn in a bit.

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I don't really even hear the single full range driver imaging that I hear with my Fibhorn 2, which is a 3 inch driver back loaded "horn" (though diyaudio experts think it's technically a transmission line). Fibhorn 2 also extends farther in treble (around 10k) and has flatter midbass....
Let me get this out of the way right now: the Rockna Wavelight is the best DAC I have had the privilege of auditioning at my own house. For my tastes and preferences, with the chains that I have used to evaluate it, it absolutely is the best and forces the Yggdrasil GS into the backseat.

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If that’s all you care to read, there you go; I saved you some good minutes reading what is going to be quite an excessively long post. If you do want to dive more in-depth as to how I think it sounds, the features, and its quirks (and downsides; yes it has those), then read on.

I’m getting this out of the way first, because let’s be real; this is the most important thing. All of the following evaluation, unless explicitly stated otherwise, is from using the linear phase filter, fed from Pi2AES through AES,no attenuation from the built-in preamp (I will get to the preamp and various filters later on), and XLR out.
The next few posts are intended to be a mini-guide as opposed to a step-by step. This is intended as a supplement to the the standard pi2AES case build (no display) thread.

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STUFF WE NEED TO BUY: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...hrow-away-your-pc-or-laptop.8878/#post-288017 The exception to above that we want the acrylic case for the 7" display instead of the regular one, and of course the official Raspberry Pi 7" Touch Screen Display
The instructions for assembling the Pi2AES 7" display case can be downloaded here. These instructions are very good, but I will offer a few tips to make the process easier.
Over the years I've tried a fair number of different tips: Comply, Spiral Dot, Mee, Spinfit, Symbio, and the stock silicone tips that come with the SE215s. My skin is on the oily end of the spectrum, but even after cleaning out my ear canals with an alcohol swab, I have problems with most tips breaking seal. The Complys want to creep backwards out of the canal (and are a hassle to install in the first place), and Spiral Dots keep seal for a while and then start breaking seal every few minutes. Same with Symbios, and those 3 are the only ones that are comfortable enough for me to wear for extended periods of time.

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I ordered a variety pack of AZLA SednaEarfit XELASTEC tips from Amazon to try them out. I had heard from someone here that they run large, and you might need to go a half-size smaller with the XELASTEC tips. That turned out to be correct. I'm a M with Spiral Dots and a MS with the XELASTEC tips.
Reviews of Moondrop Starfield and Blessing 2

The Starfield is what I would call a warm and smooth take on a neutral signature. While it’s more neutral than most stuff out there, it’s not exactly a reference type tuning. Bass is pleasantly boosted over neutral without sounding bassy. It’s got really satisfying punch and rumble. Mids are natural, with slight heft to my ears, and sit well in the pocket drawing your attention in. Treble is just a little under neutral for an ever so slightly laid back and forgiving presentation. Tonality is great; it’s very natural sounding. Staging and resolution on the other hand are just average, yet somehow this is a plus- the Starfield just lets the music wash over me without constantly analyzing everything. Instead I’m thinking, man that song was great, I wonder what’s next on the random rotation.

The Blessing 2 is a neutral sounding in-ear; it is a reference type signature. It has a very slight bass boost over diffuse field flat that is centered in deep bass. The result is a natural, yet neutral sounding bass with very good extension. It has impact and rumble when called for but is never over accentuated to my ears. While very nimble and quick sounding, it’s lacking a bit in texture compared to the best dynamic drivers, resulting in a slightly over damped sound.
To put an end on speculating blah blah blah on the T60RP, I've decided to buy one and tear it down. The T60RP appears to be very similar to the T50RP in many respects. From the outside, the major differences are the wood cups, the 4-pin connector (should one want to run balanced from the amp), and a suspension headband. The stock sound is a bit different from the T50RP, but will we get into that later. First let's have a few photos.

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Manufacturer Page: https://www.denafrips.com/hestia
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The Hestia is a 60 stepped relay attenuator. The flagship Denafrips preamp, the Athena, has the same specs with lower distortion numbers. The Athena by the way looks to be two Hestias in one box - one Hestia per channel. The same way the Hattor Big preamp just doubles up on the stepped attenuators when you step up from the Hattor Mini. I only mention this because I was originally going to buy the Athena, thinking bigger was better until I studied the specs and pictures a bit more - mainly noticing that despite double the number of relays the number of volume steps remained unchanged. I seriously doubt the two preamps sound any different. Folks at ASR might be willing to pay for the lower distortion numbers though. New, it will cost you about $900.
Introducing the Sennheiser HD800 S Mordred from Excalibur Edition. Nope, you can't have this. At least not in the USA. It's my understanding that this limited edition headphone is sold out. It may be possible for folks in the USA to buy from Europe and have them shipped here. I hate reviewing stuff that people can't have, but at least this is interesting.

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By the way, the HD800 S Anniversary Edition seems to be quite different from the HD800, and by extension, a little different from the HD800S. It's still an HD800 in terms of soundstage, timbre, transients; but the subjective tonal balance seems a bit different. I could be dreaming though. Will put this on the bench to confirm, but my sense is that the midrange dip is more evident, the 6kHz is no longer existent, but the highs are still up there. Also, the bass quality seems more in line with the HD800 than HD800S which sounded thicker to my ears (this is a good thing).
I'll post measurements over the weekend, but will start with subjective impressions and usability notes. In a nutshell, if I had an entry-level phono setup, I would immediately buy this over anything else on the market for less than $800, heck make that $1500 even. The fact is, the vinyl-nutjob world has been dominated by the www.orfas.org for far too long. Basically, anything below $1500-$2000 for a phonostage from well established brands will be a severely nerfed product.

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With the ZEN Phono, the "nothing better until we spend much more" argument is still valid, but there's also buy this because it's actually very very good. To be honest, the $149 price is absolutely shocking. With iFi, I would expect $399. But heck, let's see iFi bring it on for the masses. I hope iFi sells thousands and thousands of these.
This has turned into a rather long review roundup because I kept writing impressions about an iem and then I’d find a way to make it sound better and write a new review. For a couple iem’s this happened a few times. But I’ve decided to include all the reviews because it is great testimony to how challenging it is to review iem’s or compare impressions. There are so many factors with iem’s that don’t exist with full size headphones- (tips used, the way the tips fit - depth of insertion, how tightly they fit affecting the seal, the way the iem’s sit in your ears which changes how the tips sit in your ears, and the source used which is an especially big factor for BA iem’s with wacky impedance curves causing them to change FR with different output impedance). So I’ve left them in to give important evidence of how fickle the sound you get with iem’s is. If this was a full size headphone review roundup I would only have one review per headphone.

List of rhythmdevils recommended neutral iem’s in order of price not including aftermarket tips:
  • Surge+ dynamic waterproof iem 40$ now on sale otherwise 50$ - ever so slightly warm, great tonality.
  • EDC3 100$ on drop.com with optional modded Symbios F Peel tips if stock tips are too small - neutral
  • Sony M7 500$ now with Sony sale otherwise 700$ With Azla Sedna Earfit Light (NOT short) - neutral
  • CA Androeda 2020 1,099$ with Penon Audio tips (see review for link to tips). - warmer than neutral but extremely resolving and fast
  • CA Ara 1300$ with Azla Sedna Earfit Light Short tips - the most neutral iem I’ve heard with deep insertion.
  • CA og Solaris 1499$ with normal not original or + or ++ tips - neutral
The Apollo is a hybrid DD + 2 BA IEM. I don't know if the world has changed much, but typically hybrid IEMs that use two or more different types of drivers have always had integration issues.

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Where I will start is that I do expect the band members, or the drivers in this case, to play as a band and not as individuals. I don't expect the timbres of the different drivers to sound the same, as this is impossible, even with multi-way speakers. However, I do expect that the frequency ranges where the drivers overlap and hand the signal off, to sound cohesive and as seamless as possible. This is just one of my pet peeves, whether it comes to multi-driver speakers or IEMs (sometimes I wonder if folks outside of SBAF notice such things concerning overall cohesiveness.) The good news is that California Audio Technology or CAT, manages to pull this off with their Apollo hybrid IEM. The driver integration is on-par with another hybrid IEM that pulls it off decently, the Campfire Audio Solaris. That's two IEMs in my book (there may very well be more today, but I have not gotten my ears on them yet).